02/02/2009, 00.00
PALESTINE - ISRAEL
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Internally divided, Hamas accepts truce with Israel

by Paul Dakiki
The decision should be made official today, and last for one year. Rumors are growing of disagreements within the Islamist movement, among the leaders in Gaza, in favor of an agreement with Israel, and those living abroad, who exalt "martyrdom."

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Hamas is said to have accepted "in principle" Egypt's plan for a one-year truce with Israel, which would include the control of the 14 kilometers of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt by men of the PLO, on the condition that the border crossings from Gaza into Israel be reopened. This is the statement today from a spokesman of the Islamist organization, on the eve of the expected arrival in Cairo of representatives of the movement, who should make the decision official.

According to the television station al Arabiya, the truce should begin this Thursday, February 5.

But if the horizon appears less dark in terms of armed conflict with Israel, the death and destruction caused by the 22 days of fighting seem to have opened divisions within Hamas, which are being reflected in the relations between the movement and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Rumors from Gaza say that there are disagreements between Islamist representatives living in Gaza and those abroad, the latter group being headed by Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, who lives in Damascus. Meshal is believed to have inspired the breaking of the ceasefire with Israel and the launching of rockets that again yesterday hit the cities on the border of the Jewish state, and therefore of the retaliation that today cost at least one death and four injuries among Palestinians. Meshal himself has asked for the dissolution of the PLO, which since 1964 has united the various Palestinian political groups (but not Hamas), in that "it no longer represents a point of reference for all Palestinians." All of these positions are shared by Iran - one of the movement's sponsors, together with Syria - where Meshal went yesterday, meeting with supreme ayatollah Ali Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (in the photo).

It is exactly these kinds of "visits" that led Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to accuse Meshal of wanting to "destroy what has been the voice (of the Palestinian people) for 44 years." The PLO "is recognized by Arabs, Muslims, and... 120 countries." Abbas has also lashed out against those who have caused "Palestinian blood" to flow, provoking the clash with the Israelis "for interests that are not those of the Palestinians."

To the division created between those who were in Gaza under the Israeli bombing, and those who from abroad continue to urge the Palestinians to "martyrdom," there is added the political division that has found its voice in former Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad and in an exponent of Islamic Jihad (an extremist group that is not part of the PLO), Khaled al-Batsh. Hamad has said that he is against "further divisions," and has maintained that these would be a "fatal blow" to the hope of obtaining a Palestinian state. For his part, Al-Batsh has maintained that he is not in favor of an alternative to the PLO, but is asking for it to be reformed.

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